Democratic candidate for Ohio's 7th Congressional District race Sharen Neuhardt is accusing State Senator and Republican opponent, Steve Austria, of plagiarism. Austria wrote a column for the Xenia Gazette on Labor Day.
Neuhardt's campaign became aware of the article after an Ohio political blogger posted the column and did a side by side analysis with a Department of Public Labor factsheet on their website, highlighting very similar passages, some even verbatim.
Jessica Kershaw is communications director for Sharen Neuhardt. She says that more than 20% of Austria's column was directly lifted from the Department of Labor Website.
"It's really ironic that he would write something on labor day without doing his own work," says Kershaw.
Brad Mascho, the campaign manager for Steve Austria, says there's a distinction between paraphrasing and plagiarism. He says portions of the information on the website were referenced in his column. He notes that the fact sheet is intended for public use. Mascho says the citations were inadvertednly omitted by a staff member who the first drafted the letter.
"I guess you have to put it in perspective," says Mascho, "The column was an apolitical column. It had nothing to do with Senator Austria's position in the state sentate or his run for his congress. The point was to talk about the history of labor and you can only write September 5, 1882 in so many ways."
Mascho adds that attacking a column about the history of labor day is a "desperate act from deperate campaign".
But Neuhardt spokesperson Kershaw disagees
"We believe that there really is a lack of true feeling for working families when you can't take the time to speak with working families in Ohio's 7th congressional District. It just shows laziness on his part", says Kershaw.
Yellow Springs resident Sharon Neuhardt is hoping to beat Steve Austria from Beavercreek in November for the open seat in Ohio's 7th district, a position formerly held by Republican Dave Hobson, a nine term congressman.